ILLINOIS STATE ARCHIVES
Early Chicago, 1833–1871
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives
PETITION OF A. C. BRENDELL FOR RELIEF
May 9, 1855
A smallpox hospital was constructed in Chicago in 1843. It burned to the ground in 1845 and was reconstructed. Coexisting with it was a pesthouse which was a truly disgusting home for diseased paupers. Cholera and smallpox were two of the more dreaded diseases of the time and medical care was rudimentary. There was consensus that unsanitary conditions fostered disease but serious steps to clean the city were not taken until the late 1860s.
The destitute had few avenues for relief. In this instance the Council offered Brendell no payment but did determine to attempt to find suitable city employment for him.
Points to Consider
How old was A. C. Brendell?
What had been his former job and what had been his salary?
If Brendell was not granted relief, what would have happened to him and his family?
What was a pesthouse?